European Lead Factory

A collaborative approach to finding high quality leads for new drug discovery programs

The European Lead Factory was established in 2013 to find valuable lead structures that were previously inaccessible – and which might eventually generate novel treatment options for patients. It is a pan-European drug discovery project, and a flagship open innovation resource for academia, public organizations, large pharma companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

icon_pills 185

new drug discovery projects

icon_Hands 555,000

unique chemical compounds in the ELF library

About the European Lead Factory

Within the framework of the European Lead Factory, a Joint European Compound Library (JECL) has been created from two unique sources. First, over 300,000 compounds have been selected from previously inaccessible private company (EFPIA) collections. Second, a further 200,000 innovative compounds have been synthesized from crowd sourcing ideas by European Lead Factory chemistry partners. The initiative also offers ultra-high throughput (uHTS) screening of novel drug targets against the JECL at the European Screening Centre (ESC).

The new ESCulab project (European Screening Centre; Unique Library for Attractive Biology), supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), will use the well-established European Lead Factory brand in order to continue its success story of speeding up drug discovery.

Visit the European Lead Factory website for more information. 

Sustaining consortium success as a trusted partner

The project reaches out to academics and SMEs throughout Europe. Lygature helped to drive development from the beginning, establishing and managing an international consortium of 20 (previously 30) partners. From January 2016, a broad range of resources and support are provided under the Lygature brand, including: 

  • Scientific management and leadership. Lygature is responsible for scientific management at the Program Office, where drug discovery proposals are being recruited and where the review and selection processes are coordinated. In addition, Lygature supports the Ethics Advisory Board and is coordinator of the IMI ESCulab grant;
  • Trusted partner. As an independent enabler with no conflicting interests, Lygature guides public and private drug discovery;
  • Sustainability. Lygature coordinates sustainability discussions and planning for the European Screening Centre and the collaborative drug discovery concept;
  • Communications. Other contributions include brand building of EU Lead Factory; communicating and disseminating (scientific) articles, policies and guidelines; and use of our intranet platform for secured document sharing.

The European Lead Factory is an important example of the Lygature mission to bring academia, industry and society together in collaborative projects that allow participants to benefit from shared resources. It has required extensive expertise in both management and science, and has helped to build many long-term partnerships which Lygature continues to support.

Top image: Screening Robot at the European Screening Centre (courtesy of the Pivot Park Screening Centre)

Lygature together with

Project updates

  • The power of innovative partnerships in driving drug discovery

    Two scientists well-known within the European Lead Factory community, Peter Simpson and Graeme Wilkinson, recently published a paper discussing the features underpinning a successful drug discovery consortium.

    Titled “What makes a drug discovery consortium successful?”, the paper details how large pharma companies have become increasingly open to collaborative approaches of drug discovery research, making themselves available to partnering with academic groups and SMEs. “With many consortia now active,” it notes, “there is both growing experience and interest in the factors that contribute to their success or failure.”

    Read more.

  • arrays

    Phenotypic Screening now offered by the European Lead Factory

    The European Lead Factory is excited to announce that it can now offer two types of phenotypic screening:

    1. A high-throughput, but “lower content” phenotypic approach that is suited to screening ELF’s entire compound collection, and
    2. A more complex “high content” screening approach using microscopy or flow cytometry to probe phenotype on a smaller subset of the compound collection

    While low content assays can be live measurements or have fixed end points and involve well-averaged readouts, high content assays can be much more complex, based on live or fixed cells, multiple cell types and usually have more than one parameter as a readout. The complexity of the latter workflow makes it better suited to being performed on a smaller representative subset of the large collection.

    Read more.

  • note with good news

    UK researchers remain eligible to apply for ELF screening post-Brexit

    We are pleased to confirm that following the UK's exit from the European Union on 31 January, the European Lead Factory (ELF) will still be able to process the drug target proposals of UK researchers over the coming years.

    Read more.